Purpose of the Boss Fight

  1. Make the assessment more fun and engaging to reduce test anxiety
  2. Make a test into a Formative Assessment by providing instant feedback, rapid reflection, and eventual reassessment
  3. Build positive culture while teaching content and testing strategies


  1. Individual Data within a Collaborative Framework
    • Accomplished with Plickers which allows individual data collection during a whole group activity
    • Collaboration comes with boss fight strategy and special power ups
  2. The boss fight will feature the actual questions from that unit’s common assessment
    • In semester 1 there will be 2 common assessments and a 1 Final Exam
    • In semester 2 there will be 3 common assessments and a state mandated End of Course (which cannot be boss fight tested)
      • So, in total that is 3 boss fights per semester
  3. Students collaboratively “attack” the boss
    • to attack students will need to answer the question correct
    • The type of attack will depend on the type of boss. Some will be dice rolls and some will have physical challenges (like throwing a ball or axe).
  4. Bosses should be able to attack back
    • Random attacks NOT based on specific student missed questions
      • FERPA reasons
      • Also, targeting students for mistakes violates principle 1 and 3. Mistakes are ok as long as revisions are made.
  5. Every student should be acting with every question.
    • Tests are boring and cause attention decay. Boss Fights should be engaging and/or fun.
  6. Print questions for each student as well as display on the board.
    • I prefer Plickers as a delivery device but some questions on the common assessment are too wordy and are hard to read.
    • Projections also hamper picture, graph, quote analysis.
  7. Students receive a correct/incorrect report
    • Students take the incorrect answers from the physical papers and complete a multiple choice test recovery reflection form
  8. After the Reflection form students input their data into the School online testing platform as a form of rapid reassessment

Boss Type #1 – Dice Roll Boss

This type of boss will be attacked by dice attacks using the Dreadsheets model. Basically, every student answers a question using the Plicker cards. If the answer is correct then they roll their dice (strength determined by power grid) and update their personal spreadsheet which is connected to the Boss sheet. If the question is incorrect then they select “miss” on the spreadsheet. The Boss can attack in a few ways. The first is to attack randomly if 1/2 of all students in the class miss the question. The total number of missed questions is also tracked and the boss will have a different attack for every multiple of ten on that “miss meter”. Every student starts with 3 hearts and can be “knocked out” if they lose all of their hearts with these boss attacks. If they are ko’d they still answer questions and can “recover” hearts with various actions or with the assistance of other student’s items and powers.

Boss Type #2 – Physical Challenges

This is based on the most recent boss fight that I ran in the class which featured students throwing paper balls into cups attached to a Boss Image. Click the link to read about that. The trick with this type of boss fight is to get every student actively involved after every question. The paper ball solution of the linked post is one solution. Another issue is worrying about cheating with the physical challenge. Luckily, I don’t count the defeat of the boss as any sort of grade bonus so I don’t really care if they cheat. I will call them out if it is too blatant but removing the grade stakes usually removes most of the egregious cheating.

Character Type Implications

  1. The student theme is “superheros” so the boss should be in the realm of supervillain.
  2. Supervillains have henchmen which are a natural connection to mini-bosses that can be thrown at students as review throughout the unit.
  3. Supervillains are also schemers so it is possible to add puzzle traps and other such challenges throughout the unit.
  4. I think I can modify this old Enemies list to make both boss and “henchmen”.
  5. In the Marvel Power Grid Badge system, many of the upgrades were based on dice rolls. I should include some physical challenge powers.

Student “Starting Powers”

  1. Dice Based Attack Strength – Everyone starts with a 6 sided Die Attack
  2. Hearts – Everyone starts with 3 hearts
  3. Power Grid – Everyone will start with 2 upgrade tokens. This will allow them to begin tailoring their class experience.

Boss Escape

Balancing the “strength” of the boss is pretty tricky. The boss should be strong enough to last through most of the test but not so tough that the boss can’t be defeated. The dice roll boss calculations are made through the Dreadsheets formulas and generally add up the max attacks of each student in the class then multiply that by 1/2 the number of total questions. So, if I have 10 students with a 10 sided attack die each that is a 100 maximum attack each round. If there are 50 questions on a test I will multiply that 100 attack by 25 which means that the Boss would start off with 2500HP.

The physical challenge fights are a bit more tricky BUT one trick I had up my sleeve in the last boss assessment was several hidden stages. Think of this like a Power Rangers episode where the big bad seems defeated but comes back as a mechazord which is then defeated, only to have the real big bad emerge. Having hidden stages allows the fight to be extended but can also be ended at the teacher’s discretion and the students don’t need to know.

If the boss HP does not reach zero though I am envisioning the boss “escaping” to join form a Supervillain Group for the final exam or EOC review. All of the escaped bosses need to be defeated in the final fight. It might not take the form of the boss fight be rather a breakout style mission.